In the next section of the paper, we will briefly describe the introduction of RISC technology, and how this technology affected incumbent firms in the computer systems, software and microprocessor industries.
Because of these cost/performance advantages of RISC over CISC microprocessors, by the mid-80s, RISC technology was seen as having the potential to dominate the workstation market by providing a much cheaper alternative to minicomputers and mainframes, but also of making important inroads into the PC market.
In the period 1980-1990 a thickening web of strategic alliances, joint ventures, technology-licensing deals and consortiums was established among and between IC manufacturers, computer makers and software writers involved in RISC technology. The quest to establish new standards was a key reason for RISC design companies to team up with other companies, both vertically and horizontally.
Consequently, it is not surprising that players from outside the workstation and RISC-chip markets were interested in RISC technology. Table 1 gives an overview of the different RISC chips on the market in 1992-1993, and their designers and manufacturers.
After the commercial introduction of RISC technology by MIPS in 1985, Hewlett Packard and Sun quickly followed.
Although IBM was the inventor of RISC technology, it refrained from pursuing it commercially for a long time.
As described in the previous section, the strategies of players involved in RISC technology were largely determined by the drive to acquire a dominant position of a particular design.
The composition of the alliance blocks is also crucial: since RISC technology cuts across different industries, it is of utmost importance that all capabilities needed to compete are included.
In the case of RISC technology, RISC designers, IC manufacturers, computer makers and software writers have a clear interest in linking to a proprietary RISC design by means of an alliance network.
The alliance network in the RISC technology field meets these requirements.
Four large companies have a minority holding in a firm that is acquainted with RISC technology. There is a customerusupplier partnership between AMD and Philips, but this alliance belongs to the periphery of the network, as Philips intends to use the RISC technology in applications other than computers.